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STATE OF NEW YORK 
CONSERVATION DEPARTMENT 
WATER RESOURCES COMMISSION 


WATER AVAilABILITY IN URBAN AREAS 
OF THE SUSQUEHANNA RIVER BASIN 


A PRELIMINARY APPRAISAL 


By 
ROBERT D. MacNISH, ALLAN D. RANDALL and HENRY F. H. KU 
U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY 



WATER AVAILABILITY IN URBAN AREAS 
OF THE SUSQUEHANNA RIVER BASIN 


A PRELIMINARY APPRAISAL 


by 


Robert D. MacNish, Allan D. Randall, and Henry F. H. Ku 

.S. Geological Survey 


REPORT OF INVESTIGATION 
RI-7 


Prepared by 
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR 
GEOLOGICAL SURVEY 


in cooperation with 
NEW YORK STATE CONSERVATION DEPARTMENT 


STATE OF NEW YORK 
CONSERVATION DEPARTMENT 
WATER RESOURCES COMMISSION 


1969 




CONTENTS 


Page 


Abstract......... .... . .... .. . ..... .. ..... .. . ........... . 1 
Introduction.. .. ...... . ... .... ..... . .. .. .. ...... ........ 2 
Analysis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 
Total water available for management................ 4 
Wa t e r from the g r 0 u n d . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 
Water from streams.............................. 14 
Water from management........................... 21 
References cited........................................ 24 


Figure 1. 


ILLUSTRATIONS 


Map showing the Susquehanna River basin 
in New York State and location of the 
urban areas considered in this report...... 


2 


2 . 


Average annual hydrograph at the furthest 
downstream point in the Binghamton- 
Endicott-Johnson City area, 1938-60........ 


5 


3 . 


Average annual hydrograph at the furthest 
downstream point in the Corning- 
Elmira-Horseheads area, 1938-60... ......... 


6 


4. Average annual hydrograph at the furthest 
downstream point in the Cortland area, 


1939-60................................... · 


7 


5 . 


Hydrograph showing comparison of daily, 
and bimonthly averages of arithmetic 
mean- and log mean-daily flows for the 
Tioga River near Erwins, N. Y. in the 
spring of 1967............................. 


8 


6 . 


Map showing locations and productivities 
of aquifers in the Binghamton-Endicott- 
Johnson City area.......................... 


11 


7 . 


Map showing locations and productivities 
of aquifers in the Corning-Elmira- 
Horseheads area............................ 


12 


iii 



ILLUSTRATIONS (Continued) 


Page 


Figure 8. 


Map showing locations and productivities 
of aquifers in the Cortland area.......... 


13 


9. Average annual hydrograph, mean annual 
discharge, natural recharge, and 
maximum potential infiltration for the 
Binghamton-Endicott-Johnson City area, 
1938-60................................... 15 


10. Average annual hydrograph, mean annual 
discharge, natural recharge, and 
maximum potential infiltration for the 
Corning-Elmira-Horseheads area, 1938-60... 16 


11. Average annual hydrograph, mean annual 
discharge, natural recharge, and 
maximum potential infiltration for the 
Cortland area, 1939-60....... .......... ... 17 


12. Graph showing storage-frequency relatio
 
for the Susquehanna River at Vestal at 
a draft rate equal to the maximum 
induced infiltration...................... 18 


13. Graph showing storage-frequency relation 
for the Chemung River at Elmira at a 
draft rate equal to the maximum 
induced infiltration...................... 19 


14. Graph showing storage-frequency relation 
for the Tioughnioga River at Cortland 
at a draft rate equal to the maximum 
induced infiltration...................... 20 


15. Graph showing water available by reuse 
of treated waste water.................... 22 


iv 



WATER AVAILABILITY IN URBAN AREAS 
OF THE SUSQUEHANNA RIVER BASIN 


A PRELIMINARY APPRAISAL 


By 
Robert D. MacNish, Allan D. Randall, and Henry F. H. Ku 1/ 


ABSTRACT 


Using the mean of the logs of the monthly average flows, an 
average annual hydro graph was constructed for major streams in 
the three largest urban areas in the Susquehanna River basin in 
New York State. This logarithmic-based average hydrograph more 
nearly approximates daily flows than an arithmetic-base average 
hydrograph. Comparison of this hydrograph and the storage 
potential of local aquifers enables determination of the required 
volumes of upstream storage, or recycling of treated waste waters 
and artificial recharge necessary to sustain maximum induced 
infiltration and pumpage from ground-water storage. The desira- 
bility of using treated waste water in artificial recharge or 
streamflow augmentation is enhanced by the fact that recycling 
60 percent of the treated waste water can double water avail- 
ability for these urban areas. 


1/ Hydrologists, U.S. Geological Survey, Albany, N. Y. 


- I - 



INTRODUCTION 


Economic considerations are the most important limit on the 
water availability in three urban areas of the Susquehanna River 
basin in New York State: the Binghamton-Endicott-Johnson City 
area, the Cortland area, and the Corning-Elmira-Horseheads area. 
The locations of these areas within the State and basin are shown 
in figure 1. 


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Figure l.--The Susquehanna River basin in New York State 
and location of the urban areas 
-considered in this report. 


It is the function of the planners and water managers of the 
present and future to constantly weigh the economic feasibility 
of such varied alternatives as constructed storage, natural 
storage, pumpage, water treatment, artificial recharge, and 
recycling of treated waste water. This evaluation is, of 
necessity, a continuing evaluation due to our ever developing 
technologic capabilities to produce more at lower unit costs. 


- 2 - 



This brief report gives these planners the dimensions of 
the natural reservoirs immediately available to the three largest 
urban areas in the basin, as well as the characteristics of the 
natural flow system of these areas, and suggests some possible 
alternatives for meeting the growing water demands of an expanding 
local economy. 


The figures used in this report for recharge rates, infil- 
tration rates, and permeabilities are based on averaged point-data 
values developed in this basin and in other states, and as such 
are only approximations. Streamflow figures are developed from 
long-term flow records, which include changes in flow character- 
istics due to dam construction and changes in patterns of land 
use. 


This report is a product of a cooperative investigation 
undertaken by the New York State Conservation Department, Water 
Resources Commission, and the u.S. Geological Survey; the 
investigation was made under the administrative direction of 
Garald G. Parker, former District Chief, U.S. Geological Survey, 
Albany, N. Y. More detailed and complete analyses of some aspects 
of the hydrology of these urban areas will appear in later reports 
on the water resources of the Susquehanna River basin in New York 
State. 


- 3 - 



ANALYSIS 


Total Water Available for Management 


The amount of water in any area available for management is 
limited by: (1) the outflow from the area, both surface and 
subsurface; (2) the amount of water exported to or imported from 
another basin; and (3) the amount of evapotranspiration that can 
be salvaged by lowering the water table to a point below the zone 
where rooted plants may remove water from the water table. 


The first amount of water is the only one considered in this 
report, because at the present time (1969) the second and third 
amounts are volumetrically insignificant in the Susquehanna River 
basin. The subsurface outflow is so small compared to the surface 
outflow in these urban areas that it too can safely be ignored. 


The average annual hydrograph is developed for each urban 
area from nearby long-term stream gages, and the values are 
adjusted on a per-square-mile basis to the furthest downstream 
point within each urban area. The resultant hydrographs are 
shown in figures 2, 3, and 4. 


The average annual hydrograph, as used in this report, is 
constructed from the mean of the logs of the monthly average flow. 
This statistic was used because in the averaging of extreme 
values, the mean is arithmetically correct but not representative 
of the usual flow. The mean of the log of this flow data mini- 
mizes the effect of the extreme values, more closely approximates 
the usual flow, and permits the calculation of meaningful standard 
deviations as a numerical evaluation of the flow variability. 
Plus and minus one standard deviation of the mean of the logs of 
monthly flows form the borders of the shaded areas in figures 2, 
3, and 4. The flow at the locations shown in these figures will 
fall within the shaded areas of the figures 66 2/3 percent of the 
time, so that the vertical extent of the shaded areas at various 
times of the year gives an indication of the variability of the 
flow at that time of year. A comparison of daily, bimonthly 
arithmetic mean-daily, and bimonthly log mean-daily flows are 
shown for a segment of a hydrograph in figure 5. 


- 4 - 



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Average annua I hydrograph 


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Figure 2.--Average annual hydro graph at the furthest 
downstream point in the Binghamton- 
Endicott-Johnson City area, 1938-60. 


- 5 - 



10,000 


EXPLANA TION 


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Figure 3.--Average annual hydrograph at the furthest 
downstream point in the Corning- 
Elmira-Horseheads area, 1938-60. 


- 6 - 



1500 


EXPLANA TION 


Average annual hydrograph 


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Figure 4.--Average annual hydrograph at the furthest 
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- 7 - 



15,000 


EXPLANA T I ON 


Da i Iy hydrograph 


Bimonthly log mean-daily 


Bimonthly arithmetic mean-daily 


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Figure 5.--Comparison of daily, and bimonthly averages of 
arithmetic mean- and log mean-daily flows 
for the Tioga River near Erwins, N. Y. 
in the spring of 1967. 


- 8 - 



Water from the Ground 


A part of the outflow from an area is recoverable directly 
from the ground. This water comes from precipitation that falls 
on stratified drift in the urban areas, and from that water which 
infiltrates from small streams crossing these areas, and then 
flows through the subsurface to discharge to the main stream. 


Recent studies in Connecticut (Randall and others, 1966) 
show that average annual recharge to stratified drift may reach 
1 mgd per square mile (million gallons per day per square mile) 
or 1,500 m 3 d per km 2 (cubic meters per day per square kilometer). 
On Long Island, average recharge to a 760-square mile area of 
stratified drift was estimated to be 820 mgd (Cohen, Franke, and 
Foxworthy, 1968) or approximately 1.1 mgd per square mile 
(1,650 m3d per km2). 


The lower value is used in calculating the recharge to 
stratified drift in the Binghamton-Endicott-Johnson City and 
Cortland areas, because the average annual precipitation is less 
than in Long Island, and roughly equivalent to that in Connecticut. 
In the Corning-Elmira-Horseheads area, a recharge rate of 0.8 mgd 
per square mile (1,200 m3d per km2) is probably more realistic 
because there is less contributing upland area, and the annual 
precipitation is about 10 percent less than in the Binghamton- 
Endicott-Johnson City area. 


Recharge to the aquifers in the urban areas was evaluated 
using the recharge rates discussed above. The postulated amounts 
of water available from aquifers in each urban area are shown in 
the following table: 


Area 


Natural recharge 
(mgd) (million mjd) 
22 0.08 
30 .11 
11 .04 


Binghamton-Endicott-Johnson City 
Corning-Elmira-Horseheads 
Cortland 


This water may be captured by wells scattered evenly over 
the areas underlain by aquifers in the urban areas and whose total 
pumping capacity equals the average annual natural recharge. The 
distribution of these aquifers is shown in figures 6, 7, and 8. 


The yield figures given for the aquifers in these areas are 
yields to individual wells, and depend on the permeability of the 
aquifer materials. It is important to note that in computing a 
yield for the aquifer as a unit, the entire water budget of that 
aquifer must be considered as well as the potential yields of 
individual wells tapping the aquifer. This is necessary because 
in highly permeable materials the most important factor that 
limits aquifer yield is not the aquifer's permeability, but the 


- 9 - 



permeability of the surrounding materials through which recharge 
must be induced to flow to sustain yields without a net annual 
loss of storage. 


The water manager can subdivide aquifers into two main 
categories: (1) storage reservoirs (large aquifers), and 
(2) filters (aquifers with hydraulic connection to a nearby 
stream). In considering the amounts of natural recharge recover- 
able from the ground, it is necessary to utilize the storage 
characteristics of the aquifers. 


The natural recharge rate shown for the aquifers in the 
table on page 9 is an average rate, with most of the recharge 
entering during the nongrowing season, and very little natural 
recharge taking place during the growing season. Therefore, if 
the aquifers are to be pumped steadily at the average annual 
recharge rate, some storage must exist to accommodate this 
pumpage during the growing season. 


The growing seasons and storage required for the urban areas 


are: 


Area Growing season Storage required 
(days) (billion (million m 3 ) 
gallons) 
Binghamton-Endicott- 161 3.5 13.2 
Johnson City 
Corning-Elmira- 153 4.6 17.4 
Horseheads 
Cortland area 143 1.6 6.1 


The storage volumes are calculated by ascertaining the total 
volume occupied by the aquifer. If the specific yield is assumed 
to be 0.2, the total volume of water in the aquifer can be 
computed. It is usually impractical to recover more than about 
30 percent of the total volume of water in the aquifer because 
well spacing must be so close to get the rest of the water. The 
result of this computation for the three urban areas is: 


Total volume of Total usable 
Area water in storage storage 
(billion (million (billion (million 
gallons) m3) gallons) m3) 
Binghamton-Endicott- 8.3 31.4 2.5 9.4 
Johnson City 
Corning-Elmira- 16.0 60.6 4.8 18.2 
Horseheads 
Cortland area 13.6 51.5 4.1 15.5 


- 10 - 



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Comparing the total usable storage with the storage required 
to sustain yields during the growing season shows that the 
Binghamton-Endicott-Johnson City area must use 42 percent of its 
total aquifer volume. This percentage is above the usual limit 
of 30 percent for usable storage. If the 30-percent limit is 
used, then Binghamton-Endicott-Johnson City area must cutback 
withdrawal to 16 mgd during the growing season, a most undesir- 
able situation. 


Water from Streams 


Up to this point we have considered only the water available 
from natural recharge to the aquifer, and this has involved 
consideration of the storage-reservoir characteristics of the 
aquifers. In this section we will evaluate the filter type 
aquifer, where the water in storage in the aquifer is negligible 
in comparison to that which can be induced to infiltrate through 
the stream bottom and aquifer materials to the pumping well. 


From available data on well construction and aquifer perme- 
ability, we estimate that where the saturated section of sand and 
gravel is in excess of 50 feet (15 m) thick, wells yielding 
1.5 mgd (5,000 m 3 d) could be spaced at an average distance of 
500 feet (150 m) apart along the riverbanks. In a thinner 
surficial aquifer, a yield of 0.5 mgd (2,000 m 3 d) with an average 
spacing of 500 feet (150 m) is feasible. Because average channel 
width in each area is at least 300 feet (100 m), the maximum 
streambed infiltration rate required by placing wells along both 
sides of the stream does not exceed 19 gpd per sq ft (gallons per 
day per square foot) or 0.77 mpd (meters per day). This rate 
compares with 20 gpd per sq ft (0.81 mpd) calculated for the 
streambed near the West Hudson Street well in Elmira, with 16 gpd 
per sq ft (0.65 mpd) developed by Moore and Jenkins (1966) in 
Colorado, and with 17 gpd per sq ft (0.69 mpd) which Rosenshein 
and others (1968) developed in Rhode Island. 


Placing the wells wherever aquifer materials are in contact 
with the stream in accordance with the pumping rates and spacing 
outlined above, the maximum induced infiltration can be cal- 
culated. The results of this calculation are shown in figures 9, 
10, and 11. 


From the figures, a contrast in the hydrology between the 
three urban areas is apparent. In the Binghamton-Endicott- 
Johnson City area, a large deficiency in storage exists and there 
is abundant streamflow to sustain maximum induced infiltration 
rates in an average year. This can be deduced from figure 9, 
which shows that in an average year, the flow does not fall below 
the maximum induced infiltration. Note that this figure is 
conservative in that the mean of the log-monthly flow is below 
the arithmetic mean, and closely approximates base-flow condition 
in the stream. A more conservative estimate can be calculated 
from a storage-frequency relation developed by the methods 


- 14 - 



15,000 


EXPLANATION 


Average annua I hydrograph 


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Maximum induced i nfi Itration (300 mgd)"':( 
Average natural recharge (22 mgd)..... 


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Figure 9.--Average annual hydrograph, mean annual discharge, 
natural recharge, and maximum potential 
infiltration for the Binghamton- 
Endicott-Johnson City area, 1938-60. 


- 15 - 



10. 


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EXPLANATION 


Average annual hydrograph 


llIIIIIJIII] 
Volume of upstream storage required to sustain 
maximum infiltration rate durinQ this period 
in an average year is 20 billion gallons 
( 75.7 million m 3 ) 


NOTE: 0.2 billion gallons (0.75 million m 3 ) in 
reserve capacity in aquifer in this area. 


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Figure 10.--Average annual hydrograph, mean annual discharge, 
natural recharge, and maximum potential 
infiltration for the Corning-Elmira- 
Horseheads area, 1938-60. 


described 
y Riggs (1964). Using this method, the upstream 
storage required in an average year (50-percent chanc
 of 
deficiency) can be read from figure 12 as 1,700 cfs-days or 
1 billion gallons (3.8 million m 3 ). 


In the Corning-Elm ira-Horse heads area there is enough 
storage capacity in the aquifers to sustain draft at the annual 
recharge rate through the nonrecharge season, with a slight 
excess of storage available. The natural streamflow in this 
area is not sufficient to sustain the maximum induced infil- 
tration rates, and upstream storage either as ground water in 
aquifers or surface water in reservoirs is needed in the amount 
of 20 billion gallons (75.7 million m 3 ) in an average year. 
This is computed by integrating the area of the streamflow 
deficiency part of figure 10. A more conservative figure of 
45,000 cfs-days, or 29 billion gallons (110 million m 3 ), can be 
calculated using the storage-frequency relation shown in 
figure 13 for this draft rate. 


- 16 - 



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EXPLANA TION 


1500 


Average annual hydrograph 


illIIIIIll 
Volume of upstream storage required to sustain 
maximum infi Itration rate during this period 
in an average year is 4 bill.on gallons 
(15.1 mi II ion m 3 ) 


NOTE: 2.4 billion gallons (9.1 million m 3 ) 
reserve capacity in aquifer in this 
area. 


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200 Maximum induced infiltration (130 m
d) 


Average natural recharge (11 mgd) 


(0.04 million m 3 d) 


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Figure 11.--Average annual hydrograph, mean annual discharge, 
natural recharge, and maximum potential 
infiltration for the Cortland area, 1939-60. 


- 17 - 



20,000 


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2 5 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 
PERCENT CHANCE OF DEFICIENCY 


Figure l2.--Storage-frequency relation for the Susquehanna 
River at Vestal at a draft rate equal to 
the maximum induced infiltration. 


In the Cortland area there is an excess of storage available 
over that required to sustain drafts at the natural recharge rate. 
As a result, through artificial recharge by surface water using 
water spreading or recharge basins such as those described by 
Suter (1956), 2.4 billion gallons (9.1 million m 3 ) can be stored 
in the ground-water reservoirs in the Cortland area. This is 
enough water to maintain a sustained draft of 105 mgd (0.4 million 
m 3 d) using both ground-water storage reservoirs and induced infil- 
tration from the stream without augmentation of streamflow in an 
average year. From figure 11 the upstream storage requirement to 
sustain the maximum induced infiltration rate of 130 mgd 
(0.5 million m 3 ) is 4 billion gallons (15.1 million m 3 ), whereas 
with the more conservative storage-frequency relation in figure 
14 the required upstream storage would be 9,000 cfs-days or 
5.8 billion gallons (22 million m 3 ). 


- 18 - 



200,000 


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30 40 50 60 70 


PERCENT CHANCE OF DEFICIENCY 


Figure 13.--Storage-frequency relation for the Chemung River 
at Elmira at a draft rate equal to the 
maximum induced infiltration. 


- 19 - 



40pOO 


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PERCENT CHANCE OF DEFICIENCY 


Figure l4.--Storage-frequency relation for the Tioughnioga 
River at Cortland at a draft rate equal to 
the maximum induced infiltration. 


- 20 - 



Water from Management 


Effective management does not create water, but it can 
conserve the waters available from the ground and streams, and 
by recirculation of water can increase water availability. 


Given that complete removal of wastes is possible, any treat- 
ment less effective is a matter of financial expediency (IOO-percent 
removal of dissolved and suspended solids in water is accomplished 
by distillation -- say as a by-product of a nuclear power-generating 
plant). In this report, the completeness of the treatment is 
assumed to be at that level necessary to permit reuse of the water 
as many times as is desired without substantial deterioration of 
quality. 


A -certain percentage of the water used is consumed and not 
returned to the hydrologic system in the basin. An average figure 
for consumptive use is 10 percent of the water used. Assuming 
that the quality of the water does not deteriorate as a result of 
treatment the total water available may be expressed as gallons 
per 100 gallons of original water, as in figure 15. From the 
figure it is apparent that a substantial increase in available 
water can be obtained by the return of a modest fraction of the 
used water to the system. 


If treated water were recharged directly to the ground-water 
reservoirs through recharge basins, water spreading, or injection 
wells, the ground-water availability would increase. In fact, if 
the water returned amounted to 60 percent of the water used, the 
water availability from the ground-water reservoir would increase 
100 percent. 


Injection of treated waste water in the streams provides a 
method of increasing water available for sustaining maximum 
induced infiltration rates. The flow augmentation may be more 
easily done by the injection of treated effluents into the stream 
above the infiltration wells than by the construction of, or 
pumpage from, upstream storage. Temperature and quality fluctu- 
ations in this management option would not be damped to the 
degree they would be in the case of the ground-water reservoir 
recharge option. On the day of lowest flow in an average year in 
the Cortland area, for example, a return of 30 percent of the used 
water to the stream above the supply wells would sustain streamflow 
that would permit the maximum induced infiltration rate. For about 
16 days out of 100 days of lowest flow, the recycling rate would 
have to exceed 75 percent of the water used. Similar requirements 
for recycling in the Corning-Elmira-Horseheads area would be 
70 percent of the water used during the day of lowest flow in an 
average year, and the recycling rate would rise to 85 percent on 
16 days out of 100 days of lowest flow. At Binghamton no meaning- 
ful value can be computed because the maximum induced infiltration 
is more than one standard deviation below the mean annual hydro- 
graph. As a point of interest, on the day of lowest flow of record 
at Binghamton, 30 percent recycling would satisfy the flow required 
to sustain maximum induced infiltration. 


- 21 - 



1000 
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EXPLANATION 


00 
Y = L 100 (0.9 n X n ) 
n=O 


n = Number of times of reuse 


x = Percentage of water used 
and returned to system 


20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 
PERCENTAGE OF REUSE OF WATER (ASSUMING 10 PERCENT 
CONSUMPTIVE USE IN EACH CYCLE OF USE) 


Figure l5.--Water available by reuse of treated waste water. 


- 22 - 



Other possible management options that can increase water 
availabilities include: 


(1) Impoundment of all the water draining across the 
urban-area aquifers from tributary valleys and 
using this water to recharge the aquifers. 
This would require upstream storage on the 
tributaries so that the water from them could 
be used for recharge during the growing season 
when little or no natural recharge to the 
aquifers occurs. An additional benefit 
accruing from this option would be flood 
protection for areas where zoning laws have 
permitted construction on natural flood 
plains. 


(2) Use of direct stream intakes and upstream 
storage to provide still greater water 
availability up to the maximum, which is 
the mean annual flow plus any recycled 
water. 


- 23 - 



REFERENCES CITED 


Cohen, Philip, Franke, o. L., and Foxworthy, B. L., 1968, 
An atlas of Long Island's water resources: New York Water 
Resources Comm. Bull. 62, 117 p. 


Moore, J. E., and Jenkins, C. T., 1966, An evaluation of the 
effect of groundwater pumpage on the infiltration rate of 
a semipervious streambed: Water Resources Research, v. 2, 
no. 4, p. 691-696. 


Randall, A. D., Thomas, M. P., Thomas, C. E., and Baker, J. A., 
1966, Water resources inventory of Connecticut, part 1, 
Quinebaug River basin: Connecticut Water Resources Bull., 
no. 8, 120 p. 


Riggs, H. C., 1964, Storage analyses for water supply: U.S. Geol. 
Survey Surface Water Techniques Book 2, Chap. 1, 10 p. 


Rosenshein, J. S., Gonthier, J. B., and Allen, W. G., 1968, 
Hydrologic characteristics and sustained yield of principal 
ground-water units - Potowomut-Wickford area, Rhode Island: 
U.S. Geol. Survey, Water-Supply Paper 1775, 38 p. 


Suter, Max, 1956, High-rate recharge of ground water by 
infiltration: Jour. Am. Water Works Assoc., v. 48, no. 4, 
p. 355-360. 


- 24 -